GAO to investigate Hawaii health insurance exchange

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The Government Accountability Office plans to investigate Hawaii’s health insurance exchange, which has struggled to enroll citizens despite receiving more than $200 million in federal funds.

Hawaii state Sen. Sam Slom, a Republican from Diamond Head, Hawaii, announced the pending investigation last week that came in response to a letter he sent GAO in March.

“It was a question of where did the money go, how was it spent, and the big thing is sustainability,” Slom said in a statement. “I’ve been concerned about the lack of information from the get-go.”

GAO confirmed the investigation, saying it will add it to the list of state exchanges it currently plans to look at it. Of principal focus will be how the state spent the approximately $204 million it received in federal funding to build the project.

Of that money, Hawaii spent approximately $80 million on information technology contracts for the website with the bulk of them going to Virginia-based CGI, who built the federal exchange, healthcare.gov, which also faced challenges during the initial rollout this past October.

Hawaii had the lowest enrollment rate in the country at fewer than 8,000 as of the deadline to enroll March 31. The Connector has extended enrollment to April 30 for people who tried, but couldn’t complete the application process.

Slom said in a news release taxpayers and legislators should be outraged by the Connector’s lack of planning and money management, adding “this is not a partisan issue; this is an economic issue.”

Officials from Hawaii’s health exchange have said the exchange is not financially sustainable. The legislature is considering supporting the exchange through funds or a fee to insurance companies.

Connector officials said they had not yet heard about the investigation Thursday according to multiple reports, although they responded to information requests from GAO in February.

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Hawaii, Health Exchanges, Health IT, States, Tech News
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